“To shut down or not to shut down” is what Donald Trump is yet again agonizing over right before our eyes.
I first posted about Trump’s tendency to be overly melodramatic about this question in September when he endlessly shared his thoughts about whether he would shut down the government if he didn’t get the money he wanted to start construction on his wall between the United States and Mexico. One day it was yes (“to be”) and the next day it was maybe or no (‘not to be”).
And some days it was both and, therefore, the Trump version of the whole soliloquy from “Hamlet.”
Ultimately, the answer was no shutdown. Despite his repeated threats that it was funds for his wall or else, Trump ultimately signed a continuing resolution without getting anything. In the end, he wussed out.
This may not say much about what Trump is going to do this time. After all, the situation is somewhat different given the impending Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives in less than six weeks and the perception by many that this is Trump’s last chance to fund his wall.
But given that big change, it’s noteworthy that Trump seems to be just as conflicted about a shutdown now as he was back in September. He continues to be anything but resolute and is using very Hamlet-like conditional language (“would” and “could” instead of “will”) to explain what he might do.
And his answer not only has changed daily, it’s been changing hourly. As reported today by Jacqueline Alemany in The Washington Post, Trump said two very different things in separate interviews on Wednesday. He told the Post “he was open to Plan B” if Congress didn’t provide the full $5 billion he wants for his wall but told Politico that he was ‘totally willing’ to shut the government down in the fight.”
All of this points out two very important things as far as a government shutdown next week is concerned.
First, Trump himself is not yet sure about either what he wants to or will do.
Second, anything Trump says each day between now and midnight next Friday must be taken with a whole shaker rather than just a grain of salt.